Lately, I’ve been receiving a lot of queries from my friends pertinent to the VA section of CAT about which they (especially the engineers) are highly paranoid and consider it as an obstacle in their crusade of acing CAT ’17. I’ve personally come across plenty of such cases where people who had scored 99+ percentile in both QA and DI/LR witnessed a ridiculous plunge in their VA percentile to as low as 70!

To the rescue of CAT takers, the IIMs have, to an extent, rationalised the difficulty level of the three sections of CAT from past 2 years or so. This they have done by cutting down the difficulty level of both VA and QA thereby offering a level playing field to both engineers and non-engineers. What really tests the mettle of a candidate now is a really challenging DI/LR section, succeeding in which is not the function of a candidate’s background.

Having said all this, the VA section still remains a pain for a plethora of candidates and the following steps can make lives easier for such candidates:

1. Handling the RCs: It goes without saying that one who tames the RCs tames the entire section since they hold around 75% of the total marks and not to forget that all of them negative marking. Candidates should practice RCs from these enlisted sources (preferably in a chronological order):

  • The RC booklet of TIME.
  • Online RC tests of TIME on student’s profile (Basic and Intermediary levels are mandatory)
  • Half-hour RC tests on random websites (A google search of “CAT RC tests” will do)
  • Previous year CAT RCs

Needless to say that while doing all this, the RCs of each AIMCAT should be reviewed.

 Tip:  Learn the art of eliminating that one-two RCs in every test which will be too lengthy/tough to waste one’s time on by reading just their first paragraph. It’s okay to solve 2.5-3 RCs out of let’s say 4!

2. Things other than RCs: Para jumbles is the probably the only thing which remains to be feared of and be practised other than the RCs. Everything else automatically falls in place if the candidate doesn’t leave his/her common sense at home.

3. Drink the poison of Vocab: Vocabulary building is by far the most detested activity when it comes to preparing for VA. Agreed that no direct vocab-based questions are asked in CAT but ultimately it helps a lot to know the meaning of those 3-4 seemingly esoteric words in each RC. Also, every non-CAT entrance exam such as XAT, NMAT, IIFT, SNAP, etc throws 6-7 direct vocab-based questions on test takers. Some ways to build vocabulary are:

  • The book “Six weeks to words of power” by Wilfred Funk (most suggest “Word Power made easy” but I personally found the former fun to read)
  • Any mobile gaming app for GRE prep (makes learning words a lot more fun and interesting)
  • Learn 15-20 new words every day from a newspaper and maintain diary
  • TIME vocab cards: You can SKIP them, I know they’re a pain in the arse!

4. Sorry avid novel readers: Honestly speaking, reading novels may have a host of benefits but I personally don’t find them worth the time and efforts as compared to the returns they produce in terms of helping one perform better in the VA section. Allot time to them just for the sake of joy of reading and not for reaping any substantial benefits in CAT.

Doing the aforementioned tasks should definitely increase one’s chances of not just saving face but acing the VA section. However, even the best of the best get hiccups in their scoring pattern in VA so just pray that CAT’17 is not one of those days for you.

Abhinav Bansal

I'm a participant of the PGP 2016-18 batch at IIM Indore. Stuff like brands, blogging and dramatics interests me a lot! I aspire to launch my post MBA career with a typical Sales/Marketing job. In line with this goal, I've been a part of the Marketing club of IIM Indore and interned at a leading FMCG firm during the summers of '17.



Kushal Kabra

How to improve reading skills?? Because not able to solve entire passage with 80 percent accuracy with it comes to solve in given time limit. Please help


Hey Kushal! I think that a daily dose of at least the editorial page of any newspaper would help since it’ll not just give you a chance to read thousands of words at once but also a feeling of familiarity when you’ll read the RCs related to CAT prep. Also, while you analyse your RC test results, try to look for some rough pattern in the answers since the tone of the questions asked in most of the RCs is similar irrespective of the content that they hold. I hope it clears the air.